For the second time under the leadership of Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur, the New York Giants entered the draft with plenty of holes to fill. Through seven rounds of surprises, there were undoubtedly hits and misses. And many of the questions that we hoped would be answered still remain open-ended. The theme of this year’s draft seems to be culture. Each of these players comes from a background of overcoming adversity, be it on the field, off of it, or through the media. For a team that has actively been dosing chemotherapy to their locker room, it’s vital that the culture and leadership aspects of the team are present and activated. Through the draft’s seven rounds, Big Blue obtained the following players:
- First round, sixth overall: Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke
- First round, 17th overall: Dexter Lawrence, defensive tackle, Clemson
- First round, 30th overall: Deandre Baker, cornerback, Georgia
- Third round, 95th overall: Oshane Ximines, defensive end, Old Dominion
- Fourth round, 108th overall: Julian Love, cornerback, Notre Dame
- Fifth round, 143rd overall: Ryan Connelly, linebacker, Wisconsin
- Fifth round, 171st overall: Darius Slayton, wide receiver, Auburn
- Sixth round, 180th overall: Corey Ballentine, cornerback, Washburn
- Seventh round, 232nd overall: George Asafo-Adjei, offensive tackle, Kentucky
- Seventh round, 245th overall: Chris Slayton, defensive tackle, Syracuse
New York Giants NFL Draft Grade: 4/10
New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Deandre Baker
Not only is Deandre Baker one of the best corners in this draft class, but he also fills a significant hole in the Giants’ roster. Prior to the draft, there were eight corners on the depth chart who might compete to play opposite Janoris Jenkins, but all were pretty decidedly considered backups to the role. Neither Sam Beal (this year’s third round supplemental pick) nor Tony Lippett has the essential reliable bills of health to fill the left corner role. James Bettcher has successfully avoided a regretful decision by on-boarding Baker, who started for the Bulldogs beginning in his sophomore year. While he had the opportunity to declare for the draft in 2017 (he likely would have gone in the first round then as well), he decided to stick around for his senior season and assist Georgia to the SEC Championship game.
They may have lost, but Baker’s work will long be remembered in Georgia football history. A physical player, fearless of combat, his instincts are top-notch, and he can play both zone and off-man coverage at an elite level. He’ll fit into Bettcher’s scheme perfectly as an edge rusher, playing one-on-one during blitzes for the Giants for years to come. He is definitely a player worth trading up for, and so that we did.
The Head-Scratcher: Corey Ballentine
Corey Ballentine is the biggest, but not the only head-scratcher of the Giants draft. At the point in which he was picked, the squad still lacked a requisite at offensive tackle. And Ballentine was not the second, not the third, but the FOURTH corner drafted by the team this year.
Maybe there’s something we don’t know about Ballentine that illuminates his necessity. His resume, at least for a Washburn player, is impressive. He was one of only three NCAA Division II players to be elected to the 2019 Senior Bowl. He is known for his work ethic and highly-valuable character. He’s fast, and has track and field records from school to prove it. But at 5’11” and 196 pounds, he’s definitely small for the role and doesn’t have the history of intense competition that is required of a cornerback on a struggling team that has no patience or time to develop less-experienced players.
The Surprise: George Asafo-Adjei
Born in the Bronx, it’s no surprise that George Asafo-Adjei has long dreamed of being a New York Giant. The pick comes as a surprise (particularly to those of us who tuned into all seven rounds of drafting) because it happened so late. It’s no secret that the offensive line has hardcore struggled in recent years, and with Eli Manning promised to be starting this year, stocking up his crew of protection was an extreme need in this draft.
We could sit here and name better picks for the position until the cows come home, but they didn’t happen. At this point in the draft, we were hoping that the Giants would somehow pick up a new general manager. Asafo-Adjei started 23 times in the 48 games he played at Kentucky, where he won his spot in the lineup as a junior. His size is the most exciting thing about him; at 6’5” and 315 pounds, he definitely has the build to do the job. The skills? Well, that’s unclear. He has been called both a tackle and a guard, so where he fits in the lineup is another mystery.
Essentially, Asafo-Adjei (who was projected as a priority free agent) is a stunning pick. With Nate Solder on his last legs and the right side pretty much solidified between starters and backups, this guy looks more like a depth chart filler than a potential staple in Manning’s barricade.
The Steal: Julian Love
The second of three corners drafted by the Giants this weekend, Julian Love should have gone much earlier than the fourth round. In his three years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, he produced more effectively than any other corner drafted in the fourth round, and many from the round prior. He was instrumental in Notre Dame’s ride to their second consecutive bowl.
Love’s most rousing quality is his consistency. After making the team as a true freshman, he had a stellar first year, followed by an even more fruitful sophomore season, and then a just as productive final year in 2018. That most recent season, he was named a consensus All-American.
A strong tackler with a knack for getting his hands on the ball, he isn’t afraid to get physical and will be a strong edge rusher, eventually, in the very young, very new Bettcher defense.
Most Likely to Turn Heads During Training Camp: Daniel Jones
While the Daniel Jones pick stupefied non-Giants fans, it was less astonishing to those of us well-versed in the Giants’ schemes. Unorthodox, unorganized, and unbelievable are all words well within the office’s vocabulary, and that’s what this selection was. It wasn’t the enlisting of Jones that was so implausible, it was where it happened. Jones easily could have been selected with the prescribed 17th overall pick, or even possibly with the pick that we traded the Seattle Seahawks for and acquired Baker with. The sheer amount that this draft rating would have changed if a player like Josh Allen had been chosen instead proves it is more than risky. Many analysts would have rather had Dwayne Haskins, even those of us who beat those rumors out of the realm of logic. But here we are.
Jones will turn heads at training camp. It’s just unclear which way. A solid quarterback leading a basketball school’s team in an elite and challenging conference, it’s not that Jones doesn’t have “the stuff;” he just hasn’t given us a reason to believe he’s the next Manning (that is, beyond the fact that he looks quite like the brothers, and was trained under the same coach).
Jones is a sturdy tree at 6’5” and 220 pounds. He has well-tuned pocket mechanics and is more mobile than Eli. He has leadership qualities and was named the MVP of both bowl games in which he played. In fact, he bears a strange resemblance to Mitchell Trubisky in his build, combine results for the trials in which both participated, and in the fact that both were said to have been drafted shockingly early. For all we know, Jones could have the “it” factor that Trubisky has. Regardless, there’s definitely something about the quarterback that the Giants know, and their public does not.
And then, there’s the assumed kind of head-turn: the one that puts him behind the G-Men’s broken o-line and is a reaction to watching him deteriorate just like Manning did for the first half of last season. He’s proven scary, with risky throws into double-coverage. He also comes with some trepidation regarding his condition after breaking his collarbone last year. If Jones is indeed the next legacy quarterback of the Giants, they’ll need to turn the paper chain that’s currently blocking away opposing defenses into the Great Wall of East Rutherford, or he’ll be to blame for the losses he leads and receive the Davis Webb treatment.
Defensive tackle was not on the list. It is not, and was not a probing requirement for the Giants’ offseason. With corner in such high need, the selection of Dexter Lawrence was pretty uncalled for. Despite his strengths (literally, he had the best bench press trial in the combine of all the defensive linemen who participated), he’s still slated to be behind Dalvin Tomlinson on the depth chart at nose tackle. Still, it’s hard to be too mad at the pick. His size and stability are of NFL caliber, and he recorded one of the most impressive college campaigns of this class, winning two national championships in his three years at Clemson.
Even less necessary was Chris Slayton, who was the final Giants selection of the weekend. Syracuse’s senior defensive captain is known for his strength and ability to generate some pressure, but he had a pretty inconsistent collegiate career. After redshirting as a freshman, he appeared in all remaining 49 games, providing plenty of tape to make an informed decision on the player’s viability. Still, it’s unlikely he’ll go further than the Giants’ practice squad.
Another Slayton was drafted earlier in the final day. Darius Slayton was used by the Auburn Tigers pretty exclusively as a deep receiver. He has proven himself able to overcome adversity, namely in a play against LSU in which his facemask was grabbed not a yard away from the sideline and he was still able to make a catch on a deep pass. His speed will prove valuable on the Giants wide receiver crew, which currently boasts less-hasty Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate as its starters. Slayton would have undoubtedly been swept up earlier if he’d played within a collegiate system that didn’t hold him back.
Oshane Ximines is poised to surprise us, though his career at Old Dominion left words of the defensive end sparse prior to his drafting. The third-round pick brought significant terror to quarterbacks in all four years of college. He’s small, but mighty. He’s rigid, but explosive. A Queens native, Ximines could not be more thrilled with his assignment, and the Giants will be ready to bring out the best in him.
Wisconsin linebacker Ryan Connelly began his college career as a walk-on, and played each of his 52 games with a vicious rigor, as if the opportunity could be revoked at any time. The cousin of hockey winger Anders Lee, Connelly is recognized for his awareness of both quarterbacks and targets, and his ability to make quick reads. He may not be the most athletic of the available linebackers in the fifth round, and he is coming off a season-ending surgery. Still, he’s got versatility, and has served well on special teams, which is useful to the Giants.
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